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Are Dark Kitchen Cabinets in Style?

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By Blake Lockwood | Curated by Blake Lockwood | Reviewed by Blake Lockwood

Blake Lockwood, the seasoned interior designer behind Decor Snob, has made a name for himself with over 30 years of industry experience. As a member of esteemed associations such as the NCIDQ, CIDA, NAAB, and CCIDC, he upholds high standards in his work.  His content is always people-first, reliable, and engaging.

Dark Kitchen Cabinets

When you’re designing or remodeling your kitchen, you might wonder, “Are dark kitchen cabinets in style?” With the many kitchen cabinet styles widely available these days, many homeowners raise this question.

Yes, dark kitchen cabinets are in style. They are a great choice when they fit your personality and your kitchen’s aesthetic. However, dark kitchen cabinets are not the most popular design choice for kitchen cabinets, when you look at the number of people installing other colors of cabinets in their kitchens.

As you can see, two possible answers exist to the question of whether dark kitchen cabinets are still in style or not. Some of this boils down to overall design trends, but another equally important piece of the puzzle concerns personal style and preference as well.

What matters most? Style or your personality?

Some macro-design styles go in and out of vogue as the years go by — to a greater or lesser extent — which is a totally natural occurrence. Styles come and go all the time.

That being said, though, sometimes it really all does just come back to a personal sense of taste and personality.

It’s very natural to feel that the most important decision for design choice comes down to something that’s currently chic. But, it can actually be a far better option in some cases to simply pick the thing that makes you and your family the happiest.

In other words, choose the design or style for your kitchen cabinets that fits your personality the best. You’re the one that uses your home kitchen, not the family down the street or some idea of the typical American family.

Cleanliness and Openness

Two other considerations include cleanliness and openness, both of which can play major roles in the decision-making process for kitchen cabinets.

Some families have small children, making spills more likely to occur. In these cases, a white counter or kitchen cabinet color might not be a great choice.

On the flip side, dark kitchen cabinets tend to create a deeper, richer, and more “closed” space. White kitchen cabinets often seem to “open up” the space to the eye, though they can also show the signs of age sooner than darker ones.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the question again: “Are dark kitchen cabinets in style?”

We’re going to answer this question by looking at the numbers, consulting with experts in kitchen cabinet design, and finally considering how much a part personal preference should actually play in the decision of whether to install dark kitchen cabinets in your home.

What’s the Most Popular Kitchen Cabinet Style Right Now?

One way to answer the question (“Are dark kitchen cabinets in style?”) is by taking a look at the numbers. Trade organizations often provide yearly or quarterly statistics in order to show the big, broad design and economic trends in a wide array of different categories.

A specific major trade group goes by the name of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). In the spring of last year (2019), the NAHB wrote a very interesting and informative article called “Colors and Finishes for Kitchen Appliances, Cabinets, and Countertops”.

In that post, they write, “[T]here is no clear majority when it comes to finish and color preferences of kitchen cabinets.” If you thought there was an obvious winner in this category, then this might come as a bit of a surprise!

They go on to say, “About the same share of home buyers give traditional and contemporary cabinets the same desirability rating.”

In other words, the actual finish and style of kitchen cabinets in modern homes don’t side one way or the other in a super obvious or clear way. Many homeowners are opting for what suits them best. This means that design trends aren’t exactly swaying a big majority of people.

Here’s a breakdown by the numbers for kitchen cabinets color preferences in America just this past year, according to the NAHB:

  • White: 32%
  • Medium Brown: 26%
  • Dark Brown: 13%
  • Gray: 10%
  • Beige: 8%
  • Black: 5%
  • Other: 6%

Let’s take a deeper look at these stats for just a second. On the one hand, it might seem that white is the clear favorite, with nearly a third of the overall share. On closer inspection, we can see that this isn’t really the case.

If we add up medium brown, dark brown, and black (all of which are “dark kitchen cabinets”), then we see that a full 44% of people actually prefer dark kitchen cabinets in their homes or apartments!

So, the final numbers on dark versus white are 44% and 32%. That’s not nearly enough for either one to be considered a clear winner, but it does show us that dark kitchen cabinets are still very much in style.

Should I Use Dark Kitchen Cabinets in my Kitchen?

Here, we have the central question: should you use dark kitchen cabinets in your own kitchen?

The answer to this comes by way of two considerations that I mentioned at the beginning of this piece: style and personal preference.

If you want to be “on trend” with your kitchen cabinets, the numbers seem to indicate that you should go with dark kitchen cabinets (44%). But, if you want to look toward the future, some might say that white cabinets are quickly gaining ground on dark cabinets (32%).

Even so, that’s only one side of a more complete equation. You should also ask yourself, “What is my personal style, and what design choice fits my current aesthetic?”

“When designing your kitchen, take no chances,” says kitchen design expert Jane Lockhart. “Record all of your wishes, no matter how grand. A kitchen needs to be designed as a custom space, outfitted especially to suit your needs. A well thought out kitchen design, personalized to your needs will make all the difference in how you interact and enjoy the heart of your home.”

In that mindset, once you’ve answered these personal style questions to yourself as honestly as possible, you can begin to make a decision.

In fact, once you look at current design trends and answer this all-important question, an answer probably will begin to reveal itself to you quite quickly.

What Is My Personal Interior Design Style?

To decide which finish or color of cabinets to put in your kitchen, it’s incredibly helpful to know your overall design style. If you know your own interior design aesthetic, you’ll be able to figure out what color kitchen cabinets to choose pretty much instantly.

Here’s why…

When it comes to design choices, few things rank closer to the top of importance than personal style. No matter what design trends seem to take the most focus in any given year, if you choose something that goes against your own aesthetic, it most likely will not make you happy.

To quote culinary expert Andrew Zimmern, “Everything happens in the kitchen. Life happens in the kitchen.”

And Daniel Boulud, world-famous chef and restaurateur, says, “Kitchens should be designed around what’s truly important — fun, food, and life.”

To take this one step more: if you’re not going to be happy with your kitchen design choice, then you probably shouldn’t make that choice in the first place.

That might sound a little bit on the harsh side, but do keep in mind that unless you’re selling your home tomorrow then you won’t need to worry about resale value quite yet.

Along those same lines, you can always re-paint your kitchen cabinets if you think that a specific color will increase the chances of your home selling in a certain housing market. All that can be figured out in the future, though, and today we simply need to focus on your personal design style at the moment.

To do this, just take a look around your home. If you designed it yourself or made a lot of the big choices, then all it takes is a quick look in each room — especially the kitchen — to see what your own personal style is at this time.

Write down what you see. Take notes and jot down any ideas you have about what might look good with your existing interior decoration.

After you’ve done that, you can probably imagine exactly what color and finish kitchen cabinets would look the best in your kitchen, right now.

Do you see dark kitchen cabinets in your imagination or white ones? What specific color do you notice? Mahogany, walnut, cherry? Endless options exist, and the one that suits you best will likely come to mind fairly quickly once you’ve considered your existing setup.

Are Dark Kitchen Cabinets in Style in 2023?

At the end of the day, you shouldn’t worry about this or overthink it. Your kitchen is, well, yours, and it should make you happy above everything else.

That being said, certain design trends do fade in and out of fashion as the years go by. At the moment, white kitchen cabinetry is seeing a certain popularity in a lot of kitchens and homes.

However, as we saw earlier, more people want dark kitchen cabinetry in their home kitchens than white or gray or beige or any other color right now. So, if being in style is important to you, then you can rest assured that dark kitchen cabinets are, in fact, in vogue at the moment.

According to interior designer Jessica Lagrange, cabinets are frequently the priciest part of a kitchen, so it’s usually the best bet to opt for a flexible design that’s heavy-duty while also not being too difficult to keep clean and usable over time.

Ultimately, no matter what you choose, nothing is more important than your own happiness in the space, which may just be the overall versatility of your final decision.

Pick a color and finish of kitchen cabinets that creates a kitchen you love to be in and cook in and spend time in on a daily basis. That’s the most important thing.

As always, please let us know what you choose and send us pictures!

We love to know what your homes and kitchens look like. And I, for one, am certain that you’ll pick something absolutely stunning.

Photo: B&M Floors and Cabinets

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